Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Myanmar: Cyclone Nargis OCHA Situation Report No. 32


1. Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, making landfall in the Ayeyarwady Division and hitting the former capital, Yangon. 37 townships were significantly affected by the cyclone. Current estimates suggest that 2.4 million people were affected. 1.3 million people are estimated to have been reached so far by International NGOs, the Red Cross and the UN. Official figures put the number of dead or missing at more than 130,000.

2. A Tripartite Core Group (TCG), consisting of high-level representatives of the Government of Myanmar, ASEAN and the UN, was established at a donor conference in Yangon on 25 May to oversee the coordination of relief assistance. The group’s fifth meeting took place in Yangon on 14 June. The ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, visited Yangon on 14 June. The Secretary-General met with TCG partners, PONJA management teams (see below) and Government representatives.

3. A joint relief and early recovery assessment (Post-Nargis Joint Assessment/PONJA) is underway. The assessment involves humanitarian needs (Village Tract Assessment/VTA) and damage components (Damage and Loss Assessment/DaLA). Field surveys involving some 250 assessment personnel are taking place in 30 of the worst-affected townships between 10 and 19 June. As of 16 June 32 VTA teams have covered 84 out of 128 assessment ‘quadrants’ in Bogale, Labutta, Pathein, Pyapon, Wakema and Yangon.

4. New Government guidelines for international organizations providing assistance in cyclone-affected areas were introduced on 10 June. UN agencies and NGOs report difficulties with requests for visas and travel authorizations carried out in accordance with the new guidelines, with many line ministries not provided with instructions to expedite requests. More than 200 visas have been issued to UN staff as of 15 June. Most of the visas issued have been single entry visas for two weeks. Extensions are currently being approved in approximately 7-10 days. Close to 150 international operational UN staff have been to the affected areas as of 15 June, and at least five international UN staff have now been given permission to be based for up to 3 months in the field.


5. The Xinhua news service reports that the Myanmar Engineers' Society (MES) and the Geological Science Society (GSS) are planning to build cyclone shelters in 500 vulnerable villages. The total cost of the project is estimated to be at least US$15 million. Designs are reportedly being developed by MES and sample shelters will initially be constructed in Ayeyarwady division.

6. IFRC reports that the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), working with the IFRC and the ICRC, has reached more than 250,000 beneficiaries with water, food and other relief items as of 9 June. More than 189,950 of these beneficiaries are located in the Ayeyarwady delta. Approximately 10,000 people per day are being reached.


7. The following information is provided by the clusters, which meet regularly to coordinate the humanitarian response of national and international NGOs, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and UN agencies. For more detailed up-to-date information relating to cluster activities please visit the Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) website: http://myanmar.humanitarianinfo.org.

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